The Savannah Sparrows are back. While many other bird species migrate to the far north for breeding in spring, some Savannah Sparrows regularly come here. This individual perched on a pile of cut fennel on the east side of the park, near the section of lawn where they were able to nest and breed two years ago because Parks management allowed the vegetation to grow. They nest in tall grass. The female builds a cup-shaped nest on the ground and covers it with overhanging vegetation, often creating a tunnel for access from one side. This year management had the area mowed short, and these sparrows (along with Western Meadowlarks, Red-winged Blackbirds, and other ground nesters) will have to find another nursery habitat, hopefully in the park.
It’s odd how becoming aware of wildlife changes one’s perspective on the park landscape. Before I knew about ground-nesting birds, I saw no problem with mowed grasslands everywhere, other than the noise and pollution of the mowing machines. Now a freely growing grassland, knee high or taller, with flowering radish, mustard, and other weeds, seems more beautiful to my eyes than land decapitated by mower blades. Mowed lawns are the religion of suburbs. What stressed city spirits need more, in my opinion, is a taste of wilderness. I’m sure the Savannah Sparrow, for one, agrees.